The Long Run

Posted: September 30th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on The Long Run

Jim Schwartz had his weekly press conference on Monday. He did his best to dance around questions about the health of the CBs, questions about the pass rush and everything in between. Schwartz tries to answer questions when he can, but isn’t going to rip his players and he’s not going to let you know what he’s really thinking.

I did think he made one really good point. Schwartz talked about how you can’t get caught focusing on what just happened. He talked about the need to think about the long run. The NFL season is 16 weeks long. What’s going on now needs some context. The goal is to be playing your best when December rolls around.

Last year the defense was up and down. Then the Eagles got a shutout in the season finale (their Christmas gift to me). The defense allowed 15 and 20 points in the playoff games.

We forget that the defense had some issues early on in 2017. They were allowing 23 points per game after the first month. The defense got red hot late in the year and finished by giving up 10, 6, 10, 7 and 33 points.

Both seasons the defense came together at the right time. Injuries were part of that. Ronald Darby was hurt in 2017. Fletcher Cox missed some time. Jordan Hicks went out. And so on. Last year the entire secondary (except for Mr. Jenkins) was a MASH unit. Brandon Graham was coming off injury early on. Tim Jernigan was hurt. And so on.

Can Schwartz fix this defense and get them to play well?

I think he can. I know he’s not loved by some (and I don’t understand his critics at all), but the man has put together Top 5 defenses for three different teams. That tells you he can coach. His reputation isn’t built on one year or one player. Schwartz can flat out coach.

The secondary is about as porous as a spaghetti strainer right now. As Schwartz gets time to work with his players and some other players get healthy, I think the coverage will improve. Let’s remember that the Eagles have faced some good QBs. Aaron Rodgers is a Hall of Famer. Matt Ryan could be a Hall of Famer (better career than most realize). Matt Stafford is a former #1 overall pick. Case Keenum is a veteran QB who has won a playoff game.

The pass rush should get better and that can help the secondary in a big way. I think getting Kamu Grugier-Hill healthy will help. He has great range and athleticism. He should help in coverage.

I’m not delusional. This pass defense isn’t suddenly going to turn into Troy, Bobby, Al and Dawk. I do think the coverage will get better. The more time these guys play together and settle into their positions, the better they should perform.

At some point we could get Jalen Mills and/or Cre’Von LeBlanc back. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

For now the coaches are focused on the players who are here. Schwartz told a good story about CB Craig James. Prior to the goal line series in Green Bay, Jenkins looks at James in a huddle and said “You know they’re coming after you, right?” James responded that he knew. He backed that up by making the play that sealed the game.

The Eagles did make a couple of minor moves.

The trade was more about special teams than defense. Cyprien wasn’t a great STer. He showed on Thursday that he doesn’t cover well. Heck, I never thought he was a good fit for the Eagles defense. He is a better fit in Atlanta.

Riley is a good STer. The Eagles are using him to replace L.J. Fort. And they get a better draft pick as well. Not bad at all.

I don’t know what this means for the defense. Rudy Ford could get a chance to play on D. Maybe the Eagles have something else in mind. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

As for D.J. White, he’s now the next in line. Eagles CBs have become more endangered than drummers for Spinal Tap so White better be ready when his number is called.

A couple of people tried to get Schwartz to comment on the status of Darby or Maddox. He wouldn’t say if they have any chance to play this week. Sounds like Maddox will miss some time.

The Eagles next opponent is the Jets, the NFL’s worst offense. If there was ever a time for a banged up defense to have a good game, this is it.


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